Identifying and Stopping Acne Breakouts

Updated on September 24, 2019

Acne is usually stereotyped as being something that only affects nervous, introverted teens, but in reality, it can strike almost anybody at nearly any time. Thankfully, there are ways to stop these breakouts before they get too noticeable, but you might not be able to use your normal skincare products to do it.

Ways to Spot It

Acne, in early stages, can be hard to spot, since it looks more or less like a generic skin condition. There are some differences that set it apart, though:


Painful cystic acne is really easy to find since it physically hurts you. It can also be one of the most irritating side-effects to deal with, but you can treat it just like any other kind.

Whiteheads and Blackheads

It’s easy to mistake whiteheads and blackheads as loose skin, depending on your skin color, but you can usually identify them as acne if they’re only turning up in certain places. If you’re noticing a lot of dead skin around your nose or chin and barely anywhere else, it’s likely that it’s acne slowly developing there.

Skin Inflammation

Sometimes, it’s just obvious that something’s wrong. If your skin looks inflamed, spotty, raw or otherwise damaged in certain areas, but it doesn’t appear to be spreading very far, then it’s probably an acne outbreak.

In any case, if you’re still not sure, you can probably get an opinion from a doctor or through an online diagnosis.

Stopping the Breakouts

Dealing with Acne as soon as possible is important if you want to stop it from spreading. It won’t take over your entire body, but it can still ruin your face, your back, or other major patches of skin. Certain methods (such as damaging cysts) can make it spread faster, so you’ll need to be careful if you want to minimize the damage.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is one of the most effective treatments for most kinds of acne since it gets rid of pores and other damage through exfoliation. A lot of cleansing products contain it, so it’s not difficult to find, even if you aren’t exactly a skincare expert. 


Sulfur is another chemical that helps deal with certain types of acne, drawing oil out of the skin and drying it out to help kill off spots without forcing you to pop or burst them. You’ll obviously want to be careful to stay hydrated since your skin will be slightly dryer than usual, but once the acne is gone you can go back to your normal routine.


Your body converts retinol into retinoic acid, which works as a direct treatment for the drying and aging effects of certain kinds of acne. While it’s quite harsh and can be rejected by some people with very sensitive skin, it’s a great way to stop breakouts and get back to having clear skin as soon as possible.

No matter which chemicals or formulas you choose to use, make sure you keep it up until the acne clears. Stopping a breakout doesn’t mean you’re killing it off, so make sure you don’t give up until you’re sure it’s gone.

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